Bitcoin: Too Many Forks? 44 Emerged in 10 Months

It’s becoming difficult for even the most stalwart cryptocurrency fans to keep track of all of the bitcoin forks. The world’s most popular digital currency by market cap has seen at least 44 forks in the past 10 months, according to a report by NewsBTC. Among these are both splits that have been relatively well-known, including bitcoin gold and bitcoin private, as well as a host of others that most in the community are less likely to have followed: bitcoin atom, bitcoin pizza and bitcoin candy are not spin-off products but in fact cryptocurrencies that have been the result of many of these forks.

Investors Remain Skeptical

The report indicates that, although the preponderance of forks might give the impression of massive investor interest, in actuality the cryptocurrency community has remained largely skeptical of many of these forks. Perhaps part of the reason for this is that many of these forks have not hard forked the original bitcoin protocol legitimately.

A legitimate hard fork occurs when a miner mines an invalid block as a result of allocating hash power into the protocol. Many of these forks have not actually received sufficient support from miners in order to fully mine an invalid block. One possible reason for this is the likelihood that some of the forks were generated in an attempt to make a quick profit off of the popularity of bitcoin.

Money Grabs?

George Kimionis, a developer of mobile cryptocurrency wallets, believes that most bitcoin forks are simple money grabs. “Unfortunately, most fork-based projects we see today are more of a sheer money grab,” he says, adding that “looking back a few years from now we might realize that they were just mutations fostered by investors blinded by numerical price increases, rather than honest attempts to contribute to the blockchain ecosystem.”

Just because these fork attempts have so far been largely unsuccessful does not mean that they will stop any time soon. On the contrary, and in all likelihood, there will continue to be more and more forks into the future, according to Autonomous Research fintech strategy director Lex Sokolin. He explains that this is the case because of new platforms like Fokgen which make the process of generating hard fork templates much more straightforward for those without advanced programming ability.

Technically, many of these “forks” will actually be “airdrops,” as they are not really forks of the protocol but rather projects that are designed to distribute new coins to a prior user base in an attempt to launch a project.

Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns bitcoin and ripple.

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